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Timeline of Transformation

Contributed by
Fern Smith (of Emergence.co.uk)

By co-creating a timeline of transformation, participants connect with the possibility of change both in history and in the time span of their own lives.


In this method, a blank timeline is graphically represented on a large sheet or roll of paper and hung on the wall prior to the event. Participants are invited to co-create the timeline by adding social events that changed history, either positively or negatively, as well as personal experiences that have transformed them in some way. The timeline sets the stage for thinking about what transformations are possible in the future; it can also act as a conversation starter between people who might not know each other.


  1. Draw timeline, add some examples of historical and personal change, and post in the area where people are gathering before the event;
  2. When participants arrive, instruct participants to add their own input either directly to the timeline or via sticky note;
  3. At the beginning of the event, thank people for their contribution and explain the purpose of the timeline.

Place on U
3-20 minutes
Materials Needed

Roll of paper and colorful markers; sticky notes (optional).

Systems Thinking
Online Engagement
Care & Empathy
Deep Time
Future Visioning
Tip and Experiences
  • Explicitly ask that each participant add their input;
  • Add easy to understand examples to the timeline before
    the event, as a template;
  • Remind participants to add to the timeline during breaks or lunch.

Relevant References & Resources

This method was shared with us by Fern Smith, director of Emergence

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